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Publicans plan to open as licensed restaurants in June

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Mark Grainger delivering pints of Guinness from the Pebble Beach, Clontarf. Photo: Mark Condren

Mark Grainger delivering pints of Guinness from the Pebble Beach, Clontarf. Photo: Mark Condren

Mark Grainger delivering pints of Guinness from the Pebble Beach, Clontarf. Photo: Mark Condren

Close to half of Dublin's pubs plan to reopen next month as restaurants, according to a new survey by the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA).

The industry association, which represents around 75pc of Dublin pubs, revealed that 44pc of the capital's 750 pubs - or 330 establishments - plan to take advantage of their restaurant certificates and operate as licensed restaurants to reopen on June 29.

The survey of 300 publicans conducted between May 18 and 19 also found that 72pc of Dublin pubs currently serve food on site.

As a result, the LVA is lobbying the Government to allow its members to open, along with restaurants, as part of the State's five-phase reopening plan.

"This again highlights the urgent need for the Government to engage with the pub sector," said LVA chief executive Donall O'Keeffe.

"More than four out of every 10 pubs across Dublin are gearing up to reopen as restaurants next month. This reflects the strong emphasis many pubs throughout Dublin have put on food service.

"These venues have restaurant certificates and are just as capable of following the public health guidelines as restaurants and cafes.

"Food is a major aspect of their business so why should they be treated differently to other venues serving food and alcohol?

"We expect there will be a strong demand for these venues, with many pubs reporting a significant public appetite for when they will be serving food again.

"Bord Bia research also shows more people eat out at pubs than they do at full service restaurants or cafes."

The Government has yet to say if pubs with restaurant licences can reopen along with restaurants and cafes.

However, LVA managing director Jimmy Healy said it was crucial that the Government engages with the sector as soon as possible.

Bullet

"In the absence of specific guidelines there is nothing to stop them [opening as restaurants]," he said.

He said pubs serving food should not be treated any differently than cafes and restaurants. However, some publicans said they don't have the facilities or the necessary licence.

Ollie Hayes, owner of Ollie Hayes pub in Moneygall, Co Offaly, who served former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in 2011, said he had no choice but to bite the bullet and wait until August 10 when pubs can reopen if they practise social distancing.

"If it stays as it is we'll be down to about a quarter capacity," he added.